Stuck for words

–but I’m going to try anyway! This is about the Northern Lights I saw the other night (August 3rd), just north of the 49th parallel (where Rej’s family lives). Sorry: it’s a bit long, because it’s also a good-bye/memory post.

We almost didn’t even go to Hearst this year, but since Rej is retired it’s now possible to decide things at the last minute. When we got there and heard the news, we were very glad we’d come. This would be our last ever trip to The Cottage (Lac St. Therese, just outside Hearst): the decision has been made to sell it.

Even though we’ve been going there for 30 years (Rej for longer of course–its history in the family spans over 50 years), it’s been seldom enough that we only really know the "good" things about The Cottage. The steam bath, the large campfires, the huge gazebo to escape the bugs, enough space to accommodate many family parties over the years, the Lake… We’ve had so many wonderful boat rides, pontoon-boat rides, paddle-boat rides… In the first years of our marriage we enjoyed paddling our canoe around the smaller parts of the lake–some areas have marshes that are so perfect to glide through in a canoe (but I’ve already cried about our own selling of our canoe!)

The first year we were married, we stayed in Grand-daddy’s trailer and ran into the lake early every morning. (In those days we didn’t worry about the blood-suckers so much–you’d just check all over your body to see if there were any, and get someone to pull them off… eeewww!) Later we brought our tent-trailer, then the Hi-Lo, and of course our latest trailer, along with many others who have brought their trailers. Whoever the owners happened to be, would usually stay in The Cottage. Grand-daddy sold it to one of his sons when he was in his 60’s; now that son is in his 60’s, and there is much more expense, higher taxes, and a lot more work to it. The next generation will not be buying.

One of the best things about The Cottage (or as affectionately called by some, "The Lake"), besides the frequent call of the loons, is the awe-inspiring view of the sky: beautiful on fluffy-cloud days, vibrant sunset-times, etc.–with the water often so calm and mirror-like below it. If you want to see the stars, you have to be able to stay up late, as the sun doesn’t begin to set so far north until 10 pm. in the summer.

As you can imagine, we spent a lot of this holiday reminiscing about past years at The Cottage, trying not to let sadness pervade our conversation–rationalizing and in total understanding of Gerry’s decision to sell. Yet, I hoped that no one would be around when we said good-bye to the place for the last time… in case I thought too much about it being the last time. On that last evening as we sat around the campfire, we again laughed at how I never get to see the stars, since I can’t seem to stay up that late. I pointed out that I had made it some years, since I remembered often seeing Northern Lights during our summer visit, though I hadn’t seen them for several years now. (We knew nothing about the news report that they are supposed to be good this year.)

In fact, I did stay up until dark that night. But when the bugs come out, they’re bad enough there that you don’t even bother with bug-spray–you just escape (to the Gazebo or to bed!) Glancing at the sky, we noted that we’d missed the stars again, as the cloud-cover was quite thick.

I was almost asleep when I heard Michu’s voice "Aunt Cathie? Aunt Cathie? Sorry to wake you… you just have to come and see this." I thought OK, so the stars have come out.

I must not try too hard to describe it with beautiful words, as that would not do it credit. The band of northern lights stretched from one end of the camp to the other, the end over the lake moving, brightening, dancing over the water. It was as if God was affirming the whole place, and saying yes, this lake is beautiful too. And when He puts on a Light Show, He doesn’t skimp: there was a distant lightening, flashing every few seconds, and as I made my way back to bed (the whole thing lasted about 5 minutes), there was even a falling star! I kept the blind over my bed-window open, and was about to fall asleep when there was MORE! My eyes popped, as the curtain of light filled my small view of the sky–moving to a pretty fast beat, brightening, changing colour, shooting across another spike… Wow.

It wasn’t actually supposed to be our last night there, but because of the threatening storm clouds the next morning we packed up early and moved into town, parking the trailer at Rej’s sister’s house. So that was quite the Grand Finale–suggesting that there should not be sadness, only joy for the many years that we had there!

Sam, enjoying playing in the sand in front of the cottage, Gerry’s many-windowed Gazebo in the background.

Thank you Gerry and Nicole, for holding on to The Cottage all those years! (AND–for all the boat rides, steam baths, moose-meat meals, that time we had bear-meat, stews from your garden, home made french-fries, etc., etc.!!)

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